The Man Who Counted : Malba Tahan

This is one of the quirkiest books I've read. If you are one to hit the papers first thing in the morning to solve Sudoku, Kakuro, Mind bender, then go ahead and read this book. This is definitely your kind of book.

The Man Who Counted is about a mathematician Beremiz Samir and how he solves different problems with his knowledge of mathematics. Sort of like your Arabian Sherlock Holmes, just that the problems may not be that gory in nature. More like fights over camel distribution and such. He is not your regular human calculator, rather someone who sees romance in mathematics just as he sees it in nature, poetry. It is a collection of logical puzzles, stories, observations, anecdotes. The stories are written by Malba Tahan in the manner of storytellers of old.

The quirkiness doesn't end there. Malba Tahan is a fictitious person. The book is really written by a Brazilian mathematics professor, Júlio César de Mello e Souza's. This isn't just your regular pseudonym, Julio Cesar created a complete persona of an Arabic traveler Malba Tahan and wrote the books completely from his perspective.

The book uses interesting fables like dividing inheritance of camels amongst brothers to show how seemingly complex mathematics can be so simple and used in ordinary things. I think it can be a good tool for teachers, when mathematics becomes a chore for kids, to them the "cool" aspect of mathematics.

For those who enjoy solving logic puzzles, or even those wondering the point of Microsoft interview questions, this will be a good read. The problems may not seem like much, but the combination of storytelling with mathematics is an amusing read.


Swati said...

Wow, this book sounds really interesting and different! I will definitely pick it up soon. Thanks.

chica said...

Its definitely a curious read, but I would recommend you borrow it from a library rather than buy it.

Swati said...

Oh ok, thanks for that. You saved me some money. I am bad that way, no self-control in the book store.

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